for this game

Pens try to extend win streak in clash with Leafs

Oct 29, 2011 - 2:14 PM
(Sports Network) - The streaking Pittsburgh Penguins will shoot for a sixth straight victory tonight, as they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs for a battle at Air Canada Centre.

The Penguins have won five in a row for the first time since Jan. 22-Feb. 4 of last season. With another win tonight, Pittsburgh can notch its first six-game winning streak since the club rattled off 12 consecutive victories from Nov. 17-Dec. 11 of last year.

Pittsburgh's last two wins came in a home-and-home sweep of the New York Islanders. The Pens notched a 3-0 victory in Tuesday's road portion and returned to the Steel City to post a 3-2 shootout decision over the Isles on Thursday.

Evgeni Malkin scored the lone goal in the shootout to lead Pittsburgh to the win. Malkin managed to slide the puck under the toes of a sprawled out Rick DiPietro after the goaltender went down on a fake shot, and New York's two remaining shooters, P.A. Parenteau and John Tavares, each shot wide of the net to seal the win.

Chris Kunitz and James Neal scored third-period goals for the Penguins to send the game into overtime, while Marc-Andre Fleury made 17 saves for Pittsburgh. Fleury is 7-2-0 on the season, but is 10-7-3 with a 3.11 goals-against average in 21 career games against the Maple Leafs.

The Penguins, who are still without captain Sidney Crosby due to post- concussion syndrome, have allowed a total of six goals during their five-game winning streak. Pittsburgh has allowed just 23 goals in 12 games this season.

Pittsburgh, which has identical 4-1-1 records at home and on the road, is kicking off a three-game swing tonight. The Pens will also visit San Jose and Los Angeles before returning to the Steel City.

The Maple Leafs won for the second time in three games Thursday, as they spoiled the New York Rangers' home opener with a 4-2 triumph at Madison Square Garden. Clarke MacArthur scored the eventual game-winner early in the third period for Toronto.

Matthew Lombardi, Joffrey Lupul and Mike Brown also lit the lamp for the Maple Leafs, who have been a pleasant surprise with a 6-2-1 record on the season.

"You just want to take that momentum into the next (game)," MacArthur said.

Phil Kessel added an assist, giving him a point in eight of nine games this season. The 24-year-old winger is leading the NHL this season in points (16), while his nine goals are tied with Neal for the league lead.

Kessel did leave practice early on Friday. but is expected to play in this game.

"I expect him to play [Friday]," head coach Ron Wilson said. "He's a little banged up but the way he is playing he doesn't really have to practice."

Tim Connolly, who signed a two-year contract with Toronto this offseason, made his Maple Leafs debut. He had been out since suffering an upper-body injury during training camp.

Jonas Gustavsson got the start again with James Reimer still battling a head and neck injury. Gustavsson made 28 saves to improve to 2-2-0 on the season.

Reimer, who hasn't played since last Saturday in Montreal, was placed on injured reserve Thursday and isn't eligible to return until Sunday's game in Ottawa. Ben Scrivens served as Gustavsson's backup on Thursday and is expected to assume the same role tonight.

The Maple Leafs have yet to lose a game in regulation on home ice, posting a 4-0-1 mark at the ACC. Following tonight's tilt, Toronto will head out on a three-game road trip, beginning with tomorrow's game in Ottawa.

The Pens and Leafs split four meetings last season and Pittsburgh has won five out of eight overall in the series. Toronto had lost three straight encounters on its home ice before notching an overtime victory over the Penguins on March 2 of last season.